In her goal to get more women at the helm of the nation’s top restaurants, Rohini Dey, owner of the Vermilion restaurant group, has joined forces with the James Beard Foundation to promote female leadership in the culinary industry — a vision she talked about with us last year — via the Vermilion Women in Culinary Leadership Scholarship.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Dey outlined her plans for the scholarship: after being selected through an essay competition, two female chefs will both get a $26,000 year-long stipend, and mentorship opportunities from famous chefs, restaurateurs, and industry figures, in order to develop their careers. “It’s not just about being a chef,” Dey explained. “It’s a crash-course leadership program.”
But the reasons why these women need that guidance has to do with their inherent status in the restaurant industry. “There are so many women in culinary school, but it dies out in the field,” she said, citing the fact that out of all the recipients of the James Beard “best chef overall” award, only 13% have been women. “It’s appalling.” Hence, the scholarship emphasizes leadership, business, and development skills, as well as culinary talent.
Dey is hardly alone in this endeavor: back in September, she enlisted the help of Lidia Bastianich and Martha Stewart in order to raise money and awareness of the scholarship.
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